Background Checks


Many employers know they should be doing a background check on prospective employees, but many are intimidated by all the new rules and regulations that cover how to go about it lawfully.  This article is a simple outline of who’s entitled to what when it comes to conducting a background check.

1. The prospective employee needs to be told up-front that your company does background checks.
2. Every prospective employee should be asked to sign a disclosure form and a comprehensive release.     The disclosure is nothing more than an acknowledgement by the prospective employee that he/she understands that a background check may be done.  The release gives the permission to carry out the background check.
3. If references are going to be checked, the employer can specify the types of job-related references  they would like the prospective employee to provide.
4. The prospective employee indentifies appropriate references that meet the employer’s specifications  – usually a former superior, peer, and subordinate, but people with whom the candidate has actually worked on a day-to-day basis within the last 5 to 7 years.  The responsibility for providing  appropriate references falls squarely on the prospective employee.
5. Although the prospective employee should already have signed a disclosure, by having the prospective  employee provide the names of appropriate references, there can be no question about whether or not the prospective employee knew those individuals would be contacted.
6. The prospective employee, under the provisions of the Fair Credit Reporting Act, has a right to request to see all the information collected by the employer.  The FCRA also provides the prospective employee with the opportunity to dispute any information collected that he/she feels is incorrect.

The key, obviously, is to make sure that the prospective employee signs the disclosure and the comprehensive release to insure that, if the prospective employee is not hired, there can be no question about him/her not being fully aware that a background check was going to be carried out.

The foregoing is the short course in how to carry out a background and references check safely on all candidates for employment.